We’ve talked about how valuable Strengths Finder can be as a tool for personal growth and development, but it can also hinder what we are trying to accomplish when it is incorrectly used. I’ve taught on Strengths Finder both to individuals and groups, and here are some of the most common misuses or misunderstandings of this tool.
Every strength is a strength
We tend to criticize some of the 34 themes, especially if they were not considered desirable traits in either our families or childhood experiences. Competition is a great example. Many associate Competition as something negative…equating being competitive with being a sore loser, but that’s not actually what Competition is as a strength. Competition watches other’s success and in turn is driven to do something even greater. It’s kinda like, oh, you figured out 2+2, now I’m going to go figure out 4+4. When you have someone who can use this as a strength on your team, your whole team will benefit by going farther than any of you thought you could.
Every strength can be a weakness
While each of the 34 themes is a strength, each can also act as a weakness. I’ve heard other coaches describe this as the balcony and the basement. Our goal is to operate in our strengths from a place of maturity, self-awareness and health…we want to live from the balcony. But we have to be aware of the basement as well. If you have Ideation, you need to know when to turn it off and start executing. If you have Futuristic, you can’t ignore present needs or emergencies in favor of visualizing the future. If you have Achiever, you can’t overlook people just to get the task checked off the list. Understanding your strengths actually helps you to create a plan for facing your weaknesses.
Your strengths are NOT meant to be excuses
This is probably my biggest pet peeve when it comes to the Strengths Finder assessment. I’ve watched people learn about their strengths and respond with…oh, now I don’t have to do (fill in the blank), whew what a relief. Not quite…our strengths do not excuse us from our responsibilities; they should instead inform us as to how we will respond to those responsibilities. Adaptability is a great example. If you have Adaptability as a strength, that doesn’t mean that you can’t or don’t have to make plans…that’s called laziness. Instead, it means that when the plans change or something unexpected occurs, you are not thrown off and you can show up with your strength for your team to be calm and peaceful in the chaos of plans gone awry.
If you haven’t taken the Strengths Finder assessment, I hope you try it out and then get some individual coaching with your results. I think you will find it incredibly valuable for your personal growth and development.